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Tackling Mobile phishing within the Financial industry

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By Tom Davison, EMEA Technical Director at Lookout

Cyberattacks and the financial services industry unfortunately go hand in hand, but why? It’s simple: cybercriminals follow the money and the highly sensitive data stored within the confines of these institutions. Recently, we’ve seen the destructive nature of cyberattacks with established financial enterprises like Capital One,JP Morgan,Equifax andMetro Bank all suffering  data breaches. In the UK, financial services saw afivefold rise in data breaches in 2018 compared to 2017, while more than a third of all phishing attacks were aimed at this sector. According to the latest Verizon Data Breach Report, phishing was involved in 32 percent of confirmed breaches, as well as 78 percent of cyber-espionage incidents. While phishing can take many forms, one in particular is growing in popularity amongst cybercriminals: mobile phishing.

Tom Davison

Tom Davison

The issue of mobile phishing

Financial organisations were some of the first to adopt a mobile workforce. As the industry moved forward, so too did the demands for mobile productivity. With employees now regularly working on the go, and with the introduction of more power capabilities from iOS and Android, handheld devices are everywhere. Today, it’s not unusual to have banks use tablets to check in customers or for employees to share files via cloud sharing applications. Mobile devices have now become the favoured device to operate from, and while it can improve efficiency and cut costs across the working environment, it has introduced greater exposure to mobile threats such as phishing, malicious apps, and OS vulnerabilities.

As mentioned, mobile phishing is considered a critical threat in the financial industry as hackers are using sophisticated methods to target the weakest element in security – humans; and there are a few ways to phish a mobile device:

  • Personal and corporate email – Attackers can design an email to look and sound genuine, tricking employees into handing over sensitive data.  Traditional secure email gateways block potential phishing emails and malicious URLs, which works for protecting corporate email from phishing attacks, but neglects personal email.
  • Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks are a common challenge in the financial industry, with cybercriminals imitating senior members of staff, often C-level executives, to trick unsuspecting employees into wiring payments or transferring funds to alternate bank accounts.
  • SMS messaging and online messaging platforms – many of the tactics used for personal email attacks are used when targeting individuals over social media and messaging applications. Cybercriminals have evolved with the times, channelling their aggressive attacks to lure users to click or download malicious content through instant messaging sites.
  • Malicious ad networks – this is where apps use URLs in their backends to communicate with other services. If a malicious URL is tapped, it could result in a person experiencing a malicious ad campaign. It is difficult to fully view URLs and content in general on mobile screens, making it easier for attackers to hide in plain sight.

It is common for financial enterprises to have traditional security in place to protect against email phishing, but with so many mobile phishing avenues, more is needed to protect the wider mobile environment.

Mobile phishing prevention

While it is common for businesses to implement phishing awareness training to help the workforce gain a better understanding of the potential threats, it is not enough to eliminate mobile phishing, especially given recent changes in European law. As of November 2018, all EU member states must adhere to the standards set by the European Commission NIS Directive, which is the first EU-wide cybersecurity legislation. By following these guidelines, financial firms can operate remotely, and on mobile, knowing that safeguards are in place to protect sensitive data. Yet, some financial services still forget to implement dedicated mobile phishing and content protections, not realising that mobile devices are their own entity which cannot be protected by traditional security methods.

With more sensitive data flowing through these endpoints, financial organisations require solutions to meet their mobile cybersecurity needs. Ideally, the mobile security solution will inspect any URL requests from email (corporate or personal), SMS texts, messaging apps, and those embedded in app browsers, blocking requests for websites deemed malicious by the security provider. For example, this will inhibit a phished employee from potentially entering login credentials to a malicious replica of an Office 365 login page.

The endpoint security should also offer continued and total visibility into the business’s mobile risk landscape. The financial sector will always be a lucrative target for cybercriminals, so when it comes to cybersecurity, no chances can be taken. Hackers continually find ingenious ways to exploit the network, and the introduction of mobile devices has presented a plethora of phishing opportunities. On mobile, phishing threats can come from any app, whether personal or for work, and for this reason, the encounter rate for mobile phishing is very high in the enterprise As a result, it is critical for the finance industry to be prepared with the right mobile phishing protection to effectively safeguard sensitive data.

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears 1

By Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia will not alter legislation that would make Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google pay news outlets for content, a senior lawmaker said on Monday, as Canberra neared a final vote on whether to pass the bill into law.

Australia and the tech giants have been in a stand-off over the legislation widely seen as setting a global precedent.

Other countries including Canada and Britain have already expressed interest in taking some sort of similar action.

Facebook has protested the laws. Last week it blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts, in a jolt to the global news industry, which has already seen its business model upended by the titans of the technological revolution.

Talks between Australia and Facebook over the weekend yielded no breakthrough.

As Australia’s senate began debating the legislation, the country’s most senior lawmaker in the upper house said there would be no further amendments.

“The bill as it stands … meets the right balance,” Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, told Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio.

The bill in its present form ensures “Australian-generated news content by Australian-generated news organisations can and should be paid for and done so in a fair and legitimate way”.

The laws would give the government the right to appoint an arbitrator to set content licencing fees if private negotiations fail.

While both Google and Facebook have campaigned against the laws, Google last week inked deals with top Australian outlets, including a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

“There’s no reason Facebook can’t do and achieve what Google already has,” Birmingham added.

A Facebook representative declined to comment on Monday on the legislation, which passed the lower house last week and has majority support in the Senate.

A final vote after the so-called third reading of the bill is expected on Tuesday.

Lobby group DIGI, which represents Facebook, Google and other online platforms like Twitter Inc, meanwhile said on Monday that its members had agreed to adopt an industry-wide code of practice to reduce the spread of misinformation online.

Under the voluntary code, they commit to identifying and stopping unidentified accounts, or “bots”, disseminating content; informing users of the origins of content; and publishing an annual transparency report, among other measures.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye and Colin Packham; Editing by Sam Holmes and Hugh Lawson)

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback 2

By Pushkala Aripaka and Matthias Blamont

(Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi on Monday said they had started a new clinical trial of their protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, reviving their efforts against the pandemic after a setback in December delayed the shot’s launch.

The British and French drugmakers aim to reach final testing in the second quarter, and if the results are conclusive, hope to see the vaccine approved by the fourth quarter after having initially targeted the first half of this year.

In December, the two groups stunned investors when they said their vaccine would be delayed towards the end of 2021 after clinical trials showed an insufficient immune response in older people.

Disappointing results were probably caused by an inadequate concentration of the antigen used in the vaccine, Sanofi and GSK said, adding that Sanofi has also started work against new coronavirus variants to help plan their next steps.

Global coronavirus infections have exceeded 110 million as highly transmissible variants of the virus are prompting vaccine developers and governments to tweak their testing and immunisation strategies.

GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.

“Over the past few weeks, our teams have worked to refine the antigen formulation of our recombinant-protein vaccine,” Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.

The new mid-stage trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and immune response of the vaccine in 720 healthy adults across the United States, Honduras and Panama and test two injections given 21 days apart.

Sanofi and GSK have secured deals to supply their vaccine to the European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States. It also plans to provide shots to the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme.

To appease critics after the delay, Sanofi said earlier this year it had agreed to fill and pack millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from July.

Sanofi is also working with Translate Bio on another COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on mRNA technology.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Matthias Blamont in Paris; editing by Jason Neely and Barbara Lewis)

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Don’t ignore “lockdown fatigue”, UK watchdog tells finance bosses

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Don't ignore "lockdown fatigue", UK watchdog tells finance bosses 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Staff at financial firms in Britain are suffering from “lockdown fatigue” and their bosses are not always making sure all employees can speak up freely about their problems, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday.

Many staff at financial companies have been working from home since Britain went into its first lockdown in March last year to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

One year on, the challenges have evolved from adapting to working remotely to dealing with mental health issues, said David Blunt, the FCA’s head of conduct specialists.

“During this third lockdown, there has been a greater impact on mental well-being, with many people struggling with job security, caring responsibilities, home schooling, bereavements and lockdown fatigue.”

Bosses should continually revisit how they lead remote teams, he said.

“The impact of COVID-19 is creating a huge workload for those considered to be high performers, while the remote environment potentially makes it much more challenging for those who were previously considered low performers to change that perception,” Blunt told a City & Financial online event.

Companies should consider “psychological safety” or ensuring that all employees feel confident about speaking out and challenging opinions.

“We’ve heard varying reports of how successful this has been,” Blunt said.

Pressures in the financial sector were highlighted this month when accountants KPMG said its UK chairman Bill Michael had stepped aside during a probe into comments he made to staff.

The Financial Times said Michael, who later apologised for his comments, had told staff to “stop moaning” about the impact of the pandemic on their work lives.

Blunt was speaking as the FCA next month completes the full rollout of rules that force senior managers at financial firms to be personally accountable for their decisions to improve conduct standards.

There have only been a “modest” number of breaches reported to regulators so far as firms worry about being “tainted” but more cases will become public as sanctions are revealed, Blunt said.

“Regulators won’t be impressed by lowballing the figures.”

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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